– As of right now, I’m not sure what the status is on the Best and Worst Of Royal Rumble ’12. I’m assuming it’ll still happen, but come to terms with the reality that it may not. Hopefully a Rumble 2000 report, two open threads and a Best And Worst Of Raw report in four days is enough wrestling content to keep you feeling fulfilled. If I keep up this pace they’re gonna sh*t-can me from With Leather and you’ll have to read my reports on Scoop This.
– Comments are loved and appreciated. So are “likes”. Clicking like is even easier than commenting, so at least do that. Last night’s Open Discussion Thread featured over 1,500 comments (holy crap) so we’re gonna start working on the likes.
– A.J. picture only tangentially related.
– The biggest and most profuse Thank You ever goes out to Marty Springall @CranberryNapalm for providing high quality screengrabs while 1) my normal computer is down and 2) WWE Fan Nation is being weird about uploading videos. Couldn’t have done it without you, guy. FOLLOW HIM AS A THANK YOU. Gifs contained within are, as always, courtesy of Jerusalem at Punchsport Pagoda.
– Additional reading: UGO’s Raw Report. I disagree with him about … basically everything.
Worst: This Isn’t Working For Me Because What You’re Saying Isn’t True
It feels weird to watch Raw closely enough to write a 7-to-11 page book report on it for With Leather every week and realize I’ve missed a grade-1 storytelling plot point an arena of wrestling fans have picked up on. Since going behind Triple H’s back to the board of directors last … what, September? John Laurinaitis hasn’t done anything so blatantly heelish that he deserves immediate dismissal and a building full of people booing him. He hasn’t. The crowd is booing him because people they like keep insulting him. That’s it.
CM Punk has spent the last several months screaming in Laurinaitis’s face about how he’s WORTHLESS and PATHETIC and how he’s JUST JEALOUS that Punk gets to be a WWE Superstar, something Laurinaitis wanted but couldn’t achieve. John Morrison randomly waltzed up to Laurinaitis one time and was all, “I think you suck!” Triple H is the only guy with a legit beef against him, and he spent most of the main event segment (blergh) glossing over the whole overt backstabbing thing in favor of talking points like “you are a liar!” and “you put CM Punk in a gauntlet match one time!”
This is the same Triple H who once told a company full of protestors that their concerns about lies and danger were for pussies, and that they should just “suck it up” and do their job because WWE is all about lies and fighting. He’s showing up to condemn Laurinaitis for making people wrestle.
And isn’t that John’s only crime? He made people wrestle. He put CM Punk in matches Punk didn’t like. He let Zack Ryder wrestle when he wasn’t medically cleared, and then when he WAS, he asked him to wrestle again. At what point does this become grounds for dismissal? Does WWE’s board of directors want a guy to make wrestlers wrestle or a guy for whom the wrestlers won’t wrestle? It doesn’t make any f**king sense.
So when CM Punk starts off the show by once again sarcastically trotting out to Halpert the camera and sing Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey” (a song that hasn’t existed outside of wrestling crowds and Remember The f**king Titans since like 1970), all it reads to me as is a guy with an axe to grind against a character trope and a crowd willing to do whatever he says.
As much as I hate to say “hey wrestling, be more obvious”, it might help the constant LAURINAITIS IS THE DEVIL thing if you had him kidnap his own daughter and burn her teddy bear in the middle of the ring.
Best: A Vegan World Heavyweight Champion
Daniel Bryan’s taunt of I’M VEGAN! I DON’T EVEN EAT MEAT! was amazing, although that could’ve been just as true for a vegetarian heavyweight champion. He should’ve thrown in something ridiculously specific like I DON’T NEED VITAMIN D3 TO KICK YOUR ASS, UNLESS IT HAS BEEN DERIVED FROM MUSHROOMS, BECAUSE IN THAT CASE IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL FOR ME TO SUPPLEMENT MY DIET WITH BEFORE KICKING YOUR ASS. He should wear veganism as a badge and be a super over babyface a la Bret Hart in Canada when WWE comes to Austin and Portland.
Anyway, Daniel Bryan puts me in a unique position as a wrestling fan. It’s sorta like when LeVar Burton tweeted thanking George Lucas for Red Tails, because now he could go to bed dreaming of heroes that looked like him. I have almost NEVER seen a character “like me” in pro wrestling, and to tune in and see this pale ass bearded vegan tapping people the f**k out gives me one of my first ever experiences like this. It feels good. It does. It also makes it really easy for WWE to finally do their Casual Cruelty For Going Against Middle America thing and sh*t in my cereal.
Worst: What DO You Eat?
Case in point: CM Punk saying that if Daniel Bryan doesn’t eat meat, it begs the question… what does he eat?
The punchline here is “dick”, I guess, because CM Punk has terrible personal issues and the most complex joke a wrestling crowd can understand is “lol gay”, but here are a few things I would’ve liked Bryan to have responded with:
1. “Pussy”, followed by a microphone to the face.
2. “Are you calling me gay? Because I AM gay, and I’m going to kick you in the face” followed by a kick to the face.
3. “Mostly vegetables, why, is it weird that I eat corn, is that the coolest burn you could come up with, that I have ordered corn at a restaurant” followed by an ear of corn to the face.
4. “What’re you, eleven? Grow up.” followed by an unrelated shovel to the face
Or just something. Anything other than “did you just call me gay, THAT’S THE LAST STRAW” that they went with but thankfully still sorta-avoided. Number 2 would’ve worked really well because it would’ve given us a compelling, complex gay character in pro wrestling’s classically homophobic niche of popular culture or a scene on Smackdown where A.J. shows up and is all “you’re GAY?” and Bryan responds with “no, but he’s a piece of sh*t and it was awesome to kick him in the face”.
Worst: Hey Guys, Did You Realize Sheamus Is From Ireland
Sheamus interrupted the “lovefest” in the ring to announce that he’d use his chance to challenge for a championship at Wrestlemania to challenge for a championship at Wrestlemania (this is new information!), told John Laurinaitis that he should put his potatoes in a pot o’ gold and Dublin them in a shamrock shake, then tacked “Erin go braugh” on the end of it. He then exited the ring, holding up a sign that read “IRELAND”.
I guess I don’t mind a guy who wears a comically-oversied Celtic cross around his neck whose signature moves include the “Irish curse” who once literally danced with a midget dressed as a leprechaun adopting “Ireland Forever” as his catchphrase, because hey, if every Japanese guy gets a ching chong no speaky engrish so solly gimmick and every Hispanic guy has to ride a lawnmower or a low-rider bike to the ring, why not?
Worst case scenario it gets us one step closer to my fantasy booking where Sheamus gets a romance angle and breaks out I LOVE YA, ALWAYS ‘AVE on television.
As dumb as all this almost was, it was nice to end it with CM Punk saying “hey, we’ve known each other for a long time, let’s cut the bullsh*t and just wrestle” and then having that happen. Characters reacting like human beings to wrestling situations should happen more often.